The Books

Levi Strauss Gets a Bright Idea

by Tony Johnston
Illustrated by Stacy Innerst

One Potato Review

Raise your hand if you knew the first responders to California’s Nineteenth Century gold rush used to go panning in the nude. That this was owing to their pants abruptly disintegrating – corduroy, wool, tweed, flannel, burlap, velvet, worsted serge – may strike you as a historical mercy if you’ve ever worn worsted serge, but the indignities did not end there, as men began dressing in barrels which “got pretty hot when the sun sizzled, pretty cold when it snowed.” “Dang!” said Levi Strauss, rushing so slowly west from New York City that all the gold had run out. “There’s a need for something here. I wonder what?” Sticklers may take issue with some of this scholarship – San Francisco was possibly not constructed by Strauss with a hammer and those leftover barrels – but the right age reader for this book will have plenty of time left to reconsider the historical record, and only so many chances to embrace it.

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